Raila Odinga took the stage on Twitter to criticize the dispute between the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) and the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT).
Raila says the conflict has more worsened into a huge misunderstanding that is threatening to eliminate an organization long seen as the face of organized Labour in Kenya and a symbol of the country’s commitment to International Labour Organization Convention 98 on the right to organise and collective bargaining.
“Through a series of intentional actions, the TSC has disabled and is now en route to killing KNUT. As at today, membership of KNUT has shrunk from a high of 187,000 to 23,000. Its income has dwindled from Ksh144 million to Ksh15 million against a salary portfolio of Ksh80 million for over 600 workers spread across the country.” Read part of his statement.
According to THE STANDARD, 32,000 teachers who exited KNUT are due to be promoted by TSC in what seems like a plot to kill the former giant union KNUT. The union Secretary General Wilson Sossion last year admitted that once in KNUT, you are not eligible for a promotion by TSC.
On Thursday 7th 2021, Raila Odinga regretted that teachers may have been subdued and gone silent as a monumental movement they built from scratch since 1957 and which they took pride in, is brought to its knees.
“But they are certainly not happy. An unusual school year has started under circumstance made difficult by a raging pandemic, erratic syllabus coverage and upcoming national exams. All these require the full dedication of the teachers. The courts and the Parliamentary Committee on Education have pronounced themselves in concurrence loudly and clearly on this dispute, especially in the Petition Number 151 of 2018 in which the TSC was the petitioner against KNUT.” Read part of Odinga’s statement.”
Sossion has pointed at continuous frustration by TSC citing a massive withdrawal of members from the union’s register and failure to submit KNUT dues as a well-calculated move to frustrate the union and push it down a cliff.
“Yet as the school year begins, the old grievances remain. There is no indication that TSC will undertake a full implementation of the 2017-2021 Comprehensive Bargaining Agreement as demanded by KNUT and sanctioned by the courts and Parliament. Said Odinga.
TSC vs KNUT Fight Does Not Benefit The Country
“There are also no indications that TSC intends to pay the dues that have been denied members of KNUT. There is equally no indication the TSC will restore KNUT’s membership register to its June 2019 status. TSC has shown no indication to gazette agency fee for KNUT in liaison with the Ministry of Labour.” Said Odinga.
“This stand-off benefits no one in the long chain of education stakeholders. It does not benefit the teachers, the TSC, the pupils or even parents. In the long run, the absence of a strong and credible teachers’ union will be extremely costly to the country, making the current efforts against KNUT deeply short-sighted.
“In the spirit of the difficult times the country finds itself in against the background of increasing expectation of increased surveillance in our schools and quality learning, KNUT and TSC must return to the table, go through the rulings of the court and resolutions of Parliament and begin afresh journey of good faith that benefits all.
“It is increasingly clear that honesty is the missing link in the search for a solution to this dispute. The parties don’t need to be permanently in court or at war. The courts have asked the two parties to negotiate.
“On its part, TSC must appreciate its responsibility to support and protect teacher professionalism, teacher rights that include the right to belong to unions of their choice and teachers right to organize to check administrative power.” Raila Concluded.